Super featherweight Jordan ‘The Thrill’ Gill 28-2-1 (9) likely ended the boxing career of two-time world title challenger Michael Conlan 18-3 (9) at The SSE Arena in Belfast, Ireland on Saturday night.
Written off by the bookmakers, Gill looked rejuvenated at the higher weight after moving up a division from featherweight.
The 29-year-old Brit had Conlan on the canvas as early as the second round courtesy of a left hook and while the popular 32-year-old Irishman battle back in the fourth and had another good round in the sixth, Gill proved to be too powerful in the end.
Gill backed Conlan into a corner in the seventh, landing a right hand high on the head that stiffened his legs. Sensing blood, Gill went in for the kill and forced the referee’s stoppage at the 1:09 mark.
With the win Gill, who was coming off a fourth-round knockout loss to Spanish veteran Kiko Martinez 44-12 (31) in his last bout in October last year, injects himself into the world title mix at 130-pounds.
“I enjoyed it. My reaction was that to silence the fans. To go into the champions’ backyard, a world class fighter. It’s been a great week in Belfast. We don’t have champions where I come from. I want to be a world champion and I feel I deserve a shot,” Gill said in the ring after the bout.
“My plan was to make Mick work. I knew he lacked efficiency. I knew I could hurt him with either hand and I knocked him down heavy and once he got up I knew I was going to get him. There were a few times I got away from the game plan but I got there in the end.
“I knew Conlan has so much heart, he’s such a proud man and he’s in front of his home fans. I knew he would be dangerous and I should take my time to wear him down and I got there.”
According to CompuBox, Gill out-threw and out-landed Conlan with 121 connecting shots out of 336 compared to 80 of 281. Gill also landed to 44% of his power shots.
It was a remarkable comeback story for Gill, who admitted in his post-fight interview to suffering from to suicide ideation after splitting up with his wife.
“After the Kiko loss, I lost touch with myself,” said Gill. “I broke up with my wife. On the 30th of June, I was in a field. I drunk a liter of vodka. I was going to kill myself. Someone saved me that day.
“My dad has been by my side, my friends and my family have been there supporting me. I can’t thank them enough… I just changed my life.
“I’ve turned my life around this year in the last four months. If you’re thinking, what am I doing with my life? You can do it. You can make a change. Nobody believed I could do this. I did and that’s all that matters.”
While the future looks bright for Gill, retirement beckons for Conlan. The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist’s punch resistance looks gone and he struggled to match the physicality of Gill.
Conlan has now been knocked out in three of his past five contests, with Gill joining world champions Luis Alberto Lopez and Leigh Wood as boxers who have finished him off within the distance in the past two years.
Before the fight Conlan’s own promoter Eddie Hearn admitted it might be the end of the road for him if he couldn’t defeat Gill.
“If Michael Conlan loses, his career is over,” the Matchroom Boxing chief said to RTE.